I tried to float, accept and focus on another task but I just kept getting really down when the symptoms didn't pass

by Sue
(London)

Question
I battled at work in a shop serving customers for 3 weeks. Escaping every lunch break to sob in my car and beg god for it to go....horrible fear in my stomach and lightheadedness and scared of what was happening to me. Would it stop? I tried Claire Weeks tapes every night but it didn't stop or ease up. I was terrified of eating or taking any medicine the doctor suggested in case I got more symptoms. I felt so out of control and lost and frightened that in the end I had to be sent home. All I can think of now is I don't think I can manage that job anymore but then I'm a quitter? I'm hopeless and feel I'll never be myself again.

Answer

Hi Sue,

It’s OK, you’re not hopeless or a quitter and, as impossible as it may seem right now, you will feel like yourself again one day, just as countless others have before you. Anyone who judges you for your difficulties clearly has never had the terrible and bewildering experience of anxiety striking out of the blue or the confusion and disappointment that you feel when you do what it says in books you should do and nothing seems to change.

Here’s the thing – it will have taken some time for your body to get to the stage where it feels like there is a serious and constant emergency going on. You may not even have been aware of how this was happening. Whilst it sounds like you are experiencing strong generalized anxiety rather than having panic attacks, the underlying causes are the same. So check out causes of panic attacks to see the kinds of thing that may have been going on in your life that will have set up this problem. Anxiety and panic usually feel like they have happened for no reason, but there will always have been things going on that have made your stress levels reach a point where the body eventually starts to create those horrible feelings of fear.

So, it takes a while to get to that point. And it will take some time for the body to settle down again.

Your body is just doing what it thinks it needs to do to protect itself. Something, usually over a period of time, has made it think that you are living in a dangerous situation. So, it has started to send out all those chemicals to help you stay alert, to never feel relaxed in case the danger strikes again.

How do you teach your body that it’s OK not to make you feel like that anymore?

Well, you need to keep reminding your body that it’s safe to relax. And you need to know that even though you feel like something terrible is going to happen, the way out of this is the exact opposite of what it feels natural to do. Anxiety disorders feel terrible! And frightening! It’s completely natural to tense up, to fight the symptoms, to hate every moment of feeling this way.

But the key is (even though you may still be feeling terrible) to let go of the tension, to know that this is just the way it is right now and it may be for some time. You’re not better yet so the symptoms will be around for a while. This is something you need to practise and remind yourself all day, everyday, as much as you can. And whilst you may not notice any improvement at first, and you will feel frustrated, it will come.

This is what Claire Weekes is talking about when she says you must accept and float through the sensations, and allow more time to pass.

The ‘rag dolling’ technique is something that will help you with this.

There are lots of other tips, techniques and natural remedies that can support you during this time so take a good look around the anxiety unravelled site for ideas. These are all tried, tested and safe.

There is no way that this won’t eventually work - it is completely logical and safe – but it may take a while, and it may be up and down progress for a while. But you can recover.

All the best,
Jude

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One last thought ...
by: Anxiety Unravelled

... it is completely understandable that in your frustration and despair you would take off to your car and have a good cry - sometimes we really need to do that. Since you have a car available you could also use that time to try and let some of that accumulated tension start to drain away by playing a deep relaxation CD or yoga nidra. This would be hugely beneficial - but again, don't expect it to take your symptoms away overnight. It's the repeated practise that will eventually help your symptoms to ease as your body starts to get the message that it's safe to relax.

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